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Child and Teen Suicide: It’s Real and It’s Happening

(c) VictoryLab Inc. 2018

What can we do to prevent it?

With today, September 10th, being World Suicide Prevention Day, we at VictoryLab aim to educate and inform people of the high rate of adolescent suicide in Canada; but, most importantly, how we can prevent it.

It’s difficult to comprehend that children as young as 5 to 9 years old are able to take their own lives, yet there were two of these suicides reported in Canada in 2011. In addition to that, 657 children from ages 5 to 11 committed suicide in Canada from the years 1993 to 2012. Child suicide is real, and the numbers are often much higher than many people assume. According to a report by Kids Help Phone, one in five Canadian teenagers have seriously considered suicide in the past year. Not only is this number strikingly high, but even with suicide being such a large cause of death, teenagers still feel as though they aren’t being offered the help that they need.

[If you or someone you know is considering suicide, help is available. The Distress Centre and Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers 24/7 support. The Distress Centre can be reached via phone at 403-266-4357 or via website here. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached via phone at 1-800-273-8255 or via website here.]

Our goal is to help spread awareness and to provide people with the necessary steps to take when they suspect that an individual they know is suicidal. By doing so, we hope to help prevent suicide, or to encourage a suicidal individual to seek help. Here are some ways that you can help stop teen and child suicide:

Recognize the warning signs

These warning signs may include things such as a drop in academic performance, or a change in an adolescent’s daily activities. They can also include changes in behaviour like getting into trouble, eating or sleeping less/more, or withdrawing from friends and family. If you notice a significant change in emotion, like angry outbursts or increased irritability, these are also important warning signs to recognize and to seek help for. The signs are not always blatantly obvious, which makes it difficult to notice them when they’re happening, but, educating yourself on how to identify these warning signs can potentially help save a life.

Listen and be attentive to the adolescent’s thoughts and emotions

It’s important to ask an adolescent how they’re feeling, and if they’ve ever considered harming themselves. If so, something that is important to avoid is attempting to “fix” the problem. The most beneficial thing that you can do is to acknowledge the individual’s feelings without attempting to find a quick solution to their “problem”, and then to seek help. It’s extremely important to express support, and to let the individual know that they’re not alone.

Get help immediately

If you recognize the warning signs and are worried that someone you know may be planning to harm themselves, seek medical attention for the individual immediately.

Preventing child and teen suicide is difficult, as we’re not often shown the correct steps and tools towards actively helping an adolescent who is suicidal. But, educating yourself and learning to recognize the warning signs may help save someone’s life, which is the highest priority. In honor of World Suicide Prevention Day, we encourage you to check on your friends and family, and offer support to those who you recognize may be in need.

To find out how VictoryLab can help the mental health of adolescents in the education system, click here.

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